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characters of MY CURSED HIGHLANDER and a quote from the book
where they are introduced.

THE HERO & HEROINE:
LAIRD TAVEON KRAIG &
VIVIANA GORINI De' MEDICI MARTINUS Da VINCENZA
Italy, in the year of our Lord fourteen-hundred and eighty-six

“Remove your garments, per favore.”

Although, her forthrightness shocked him, Taveon Kraig had no intention of denying the beauty’s request. Her nonchalance confirmed the lingering question that had pecked at him for nigh a sennight. Her association to the
wealthiest families in all of Italy could no longer be denied. She was a
courtesan to the Medici Empire.

Excitement, raw and feral, whipped through him as he released the clasps holding his burgundy doublet together, more than eager to be rid of the garment. Hell must surely lie directly beneath Firenze soil as he’d never known such sweltering weather.

“There is a robe on the chair if you are modest.” She gestured toward one of the few pieces of furniture in the chamber.

Modest? Taveon grinned. There wasn’t a modest bone in his body. After removing his boots, he peeled his tunic off over his head and neatly draped his garments over the chair’s back. Only briefly did he drag his eyes from her to glance at the renderings of serpents and cherubs carved into the wood. Everything at the Medici Palace was elaborately decorated—the furniture, the door panels…the women.

THE CURSE: ELISE KRAIG
Scotland, in the year of our Lord thirteen-hundred and eighty

“Kael?” Elise whispered her husband’s name and dropped a bouquet of purple saffron. She shook her head in disbelief and choked on the sob filling her chest.

Twilight glistened off Kael’s sweat-slicked back as he held another woman against the ancient stone—their stone—and thrust wildly between her legs. The musky scent of sex blended with the salty aroma of the sea.

Waves slapped a hideous melody against the shore at the base of the cliff. Elise stood immobile, unable to turn away from the scene before her.

The woman propped herself up higher on the free-standing boulder and clasped her ankles around his buttocks. She leaned to the side and bit Kael’s ear, her lips curling into a wicked grin. Glowing green eyes leered at Elise from over Kael’s shoulder.

Elise stared at her, confused by her appearance; pale hair, gold lashes, high cheekbones. Her image mirrored Elise. Who was she?

VIVIANA'S MOTHER FIGURE: SISTER DE ROSA
“Mayhap your mother died when ye were just a babe or mayhap ye have lost a husband.”

Or two, she thought without the least bit of remorse. Radolfo’s and Luciano’s deaths had been a blessing not a curse. As for the woman who gave birth to her, Viviana held no affection for a mother who abandoned her daughters at the portico of Spedale degli Innocenti. Sister De Rosa had been the only mother figure in their lives after that. The nun’s image stuck in Viviana’s head; smooth skin, brown hair, haunting green eyes…
She’d cared for them, loved them, then she, too, abandoned them.

TAVEON'S KINSMAN: REMI
“Weel?”

“Weel what?” Taveon intended to choke Remi until his eyes bulged out of his red head if the eedgit badgered him again.

“Is she the one Noreen spoke of?” Remi scrambled to his feet, his boots clattering against the tiled roof, and untied the tunic he’d been wearing around his head to keep the sweat from his eyes.

“Aye. She’s wearing the amulet.” Taveon pulled on his chausses and laced up his braies, then repositioned two dirks inside their leather sheaths around his waist. Using his tunic, he wiped the sweat from his neck and wished just one cloud would pass by. Had there been a fourth floor to the Medici Palace, he’d be a stone’s throw from the sun’s center. He missed Scotland and her cool air.

Remi blinked his eyes repeatedly—as was his annoying tic—and splayed his hands at his sides. “Weel then, where is it?”

TAVEON'S KINSMAN: MONROE
“Does this mean we willnae be celebrating your nuptials?” Monroe chimed in from behind in tune to the bells clanging overhead.

“Fear not, my friend.” Taveon did a little skip and spun around to look Monroe in his good eye. Taveon splayed his arms wide and plastered on a broad grin, continuing to walk backward. “We will be celebrating in rare form this eve. At the bawdy house.”The scar running down Monroe’s face dissected the corner of his smile, but it was a smile just the same. “Mayhap Madame Bianca can bring in a few more drabs.”

“The more, the merrier.” Taveon pivoted, blood racing, heart pounding. He felt as if he would burst into flames. He now understood why Viviana
was a widow. Her first two husbands had most likely combusted.

TAVEON'S DAUGHTER: MAKAYLA
The child’s head bobbed furiously. “Did ye bring me a gift? I need a new doll. Jack tore the arms off Bonny-Lee.”

“I brought ye something much bigger.” Taveon reached for Viviana’s hand.

For a full breath she couldn’t move, but somehow managed to pry her nails from Keegan’s arm and accept Taveon’s hand…and his eyes. She knelt beside him and forced herself to remain calm, regardless of the acrobats doing flip flops in her stomach.

Taveon looked into Makayla’s excited blue eyes—beautiful eyes, the same color as his—and said, “I brought ye a new mum.”

TAVEON'S SISTER-IN-LAW : CORA-ROSE KRAIG
“Ye are so…round.” Taveon’s tone held a whisper of awe.

“Bleeding Christ. That isnae a compliment. I dare say ye lost your wit as weel as your skill for flattery on your travels.” She slapped his hand away from her person, gaining a playful chuckle from Taveon. “Go with your brother and leave me to become acquainted with your new wife.” She paused, her eyes swept over Viviana. “Ye did take her to wife, aye?”

“Oh, aye.” Taveon’s gaze left the woman to slide over Viviana’s breasts. “More times than—”

Viviana gave a threatening tug to a cluster of hairs on his forearm.

“Ack!” Cora-Rose regained his attention and held up a flat hand. “Begone with your vulgar tongue.”

VIVIANA'S BELOVED PET: MIOCCHI
“And this is Jax’s woman.”

A clicking sound grew in volume and prefaced the entry of a huge gray dog. The beast slid into the chamber and nearly skidded into the empty hearth. It took a stance at Taveon’s feet.

“Yap, yap, yap…”

Short-haired and strongly built, the beastie’s annoying bark didn’t coincide with its size. The dog’s instincts to guard her only added to the pandemonium erupting in the chamber. The blood left his erection and throbbed at his temple in time with the dog’s persistent yelping.

TAVEON'S HOME: RAVENHURST
Trembling, Viviana sucked in gulps of icy air as Taveon hauled her up the catwalk. He set her in front of him and gazed out over a carpet of sparkling waves to the object of everyone’s attention.

“’Tis Ravenhurst,” he murmured in a voice filled with pride.

Viviana’s knees wobbled. Her breath froze in her throat. A massive fortress sat atop an enormous flat-top rock with sheer cliffs all around. A coastal pathway ribboned up the steep embankment leading to two towers that seemed to touch a ceiling of gray twilight. Gulls and other seabirds screamed their welcome, deafening the pounding of Viviana’s heart. Ravenhurst was nothing at all like the Medici Palace.

No wonder Taveon had a fear of heights.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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